The Kenya Tea Development Agency Management Services (KTDA MS) – a KTDA Subsidiary– has suspended the importation of fertilizer for smallholder tea farmers for the year 2020 following disruptions in the importation chain that has been occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said on Monday.
KTDA MS imports fertilizer on behalf of its over 600,000 smallholder tea farmers for application during the short rains in October/November of every year.
The bulk importation enables tea farmers to benefit from economies of scale, competitive prices and deliveries right at their tea buying centres.
However, the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes it impossible for the fertilizer to be delivered in time for application by the farmers.
In this regard, KTDA says it has sought and obtained expert advice from the Tea Research Institute on the effects on productivity of skipping one year of fertilizer application.
“The advice was that it is possible to skip one year with no significant losses in yields, subject to adequate rainfall. However, the subsequent application should not be delayed, to avoid further yield losses,” KTDA said in a statement.
“On the basis of this advice, the board suspended the tender for the importation of fertilizer to next season. Consequently, farmers will be refunded the contributions they have made in the last seven months along with accrued interest,” said the agency in a statement.
This will be effected at the end of this month (June 2020).
KTDA is now advising farmers who may wish to apply fertilizer to their farms to source the commodity from government-approved commercial suppliers with tea fertilizer stocks.
“KTDA will advise all stakeholders of the commencement of the next year’s procurement,” further read the statement.
Tea farmers affiliated to KTDA managed factories are also slated to receive Kshs 649 million this month from their tea factories, being dividends received from KTDA Holdings Ltd and its subsidiaries for the financial year ending June 30, 2019
Tea factories, through resolutions of their directors, resolved to pass the dividends received from KTDA holdings directly to the farmers who are the shareholders of the tea factories that own KTDA (H) Ltd.